Hong Kong - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) challenged governments to take four specific actions to support the aviation industry’s responsible approach to climate change:

  • Adopt challenging industry targets to stabilize and eventually reduce aviation’s carbon emissions;
  • Manage aviation’s carbon emissions through ICAO under a new Kyoto II framework by treating aviation as a global industrial sector;
  • Invest in efficient infrastructure, particularly air traffic management; and
  • Establish fiscal and legal frameworks to promote the rapid development of biofuels for aviation.

The call for action came in a message from Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO, to delegates attending the Greener Skies Conference in Hong Kong.

“The aviation industry takes its environmental responsibility seriously. Our vision is for carbon-neutral growth on the way to a carbon-free future and we have challenging targets to guide us,” said Bisignani.

An industry-wide commitment on environment was formalized in a common industry working paper representing airlines, airports, air navigation service providers and manufacturers. This paper will be presented by the industry to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at its High Level Meeting on International Aviation and Climate Change which starts tomorrow in Montreal. It contains the following targets:

  • Improving fuel efficiency 1.5% on average per year through 2020
  • Stabilizing emissions with carbon-neutral growth from 2020
  • Reducing emissions 50% by 2050, compared to 2005

“Aviation is unique among industries. When it comes to environment, no other global industry is as united, ambitious or determined. Our message to governments at ICAO is simple. We need a global sectoral approach to reducing aviation emissions. And governments should incorporate our industry targets as part of their solution. Working together, with ICAO, aviation will be a role model for industry cooperation with the UN in driving important change,” said Bisignani.

“The global sectoral approach would mean that governments account for aviation’s emissions at a global level and as an industrial sector, rather than within national targets. This would ensure that airlines pay for their climate cost just once, not several times over, and it would drive emissions reductions with global standards on a level playing field. ICAO would monitor progress with the help of IATA and the industry,” said Bisignani.

“Our track record clearly shows that aviation is unique in its ability to drive major global changes. For example, IATA rolled-out e-ticketing to every corner of the planet in just 48 months,” said Bisignani. IATA’s four-pillar strategy to address climate change with modern technology, effective operations, efficient infrastructure and positive economic measures is another example. “Implementing the four-pillar strategy, IATA has already saved over 68 million tonnes of CO2. This year we expect aviation’s carbon emissions to fall by 7% - some 5% from the recession and 2% as a direct result of our work,” said Bisignani.

Bisignani also noted that government commitment is critical for aviation to meet its targets. This means rejecting uncoordinated and opportunistic taxation that does nothing for the environment and focusing instead on actions that will reduce emissions. “Governments must share the industry’s vision for an even more efficient air transport sector and back it up with investments in better infrastructure, especially air traffic management projects like the US NextGen investment. And they must facilitate the rapid advance of sustainable biofuels from testing to commercial availability with appropriate fiscal and legal frameworks,” said Bisignani.

Access Giovanni Bisignani's full speech

Notes for Editors:

  • IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 230 airlines comprising 93% of scheduled international air traffic

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